Last year, Shelton Bettis put up a memorial for his son in the front yard of his home on Orange Street. His son has been gone now for a decade.
“It’s something I just put out there to remind me of him,” Bettis said. “Every day I get up, it helps me, helps to heal the pain. People realize that he was somebody to the whole family.”
Demarcus Bettis was 18-years-old. He had been a running back at Williamson High School. He had just graduated when he was killed on Memorial Day weekend, 2007. He and a friend were walking on Michigan Avenue, near Duval Street. They were going to get some food at a Church’s Chicken restaurant.
“An SUV pulled up beside them,” described Sgt. Rusty Hardeman of the Mobile Police Department who worked the case in 2007. “For no good reason that we can determine, shots were fired from an assault rifle and struck Demarcus Bettis and killed him almost instantly and his friend that was walking with him lost some fingers on his right hand.”
The case has gnawed at Hardeman for more than a decade. He says Bettis and his friend were not involved in any trouble on the Maysville streets and that they had done nothing to put themselves in danger.
“They weren’t troublemakers in school,” Hardeman said. “They didn’t have a lot of enemies. They had a lot of friends. They were popular. And that’s what makes cases like this so hard to solve because usually you find the motive of why someone wanted them killed and that will take you to the person that did it.”
Hardeman believes Bettis was the victim of mistaken identity and that only a talkative killer might break this case.
“That’s what it’s going to rely on,” he said. “It’s going to rely on someone telling someone what they did.”
Shelton Bettis holds out hope for an arrest.
“It won’t bring him back but will take a killer off the street,” Bettis said. “It will do the world good to put a person in the place they need to be.”
Shelton says Demarcus says a young man with a promising future and his murder has devastated the family.
“Marcus was a real good kid,” he said. “He was a perfect son for a father.”